Retailers and businesses are of course worried about the effect of the global pandemic on enterprise, let alone the health and safety of their employees.
Despite this, business executives around the world are stepping up. And many have started to help stop the spread of the virus in truly heartening ways.
Jack Ma Donates Test Kits to US
The Chinese business magnate Jack Ma recently pledged to donate half a billion COVID-19 testing kits and one million face masks to the US, according to reports.
Ma’s foundation had also donated materials to afflicted areas in Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran, and Spain. The multi-billionaire had earlier donated $14.5 million towards a coronavirus vaccine.
Supermarket Chains are Stepping Up
Other businesses have chosen to focus their assistance on society’s most vulnerable. The Australian supermarket giant, Woolworth’s, has introduced an early morning shopping hour for seniors and people with disabilities.
Woolworth’s move is in response to the panic buying seen in supermarkets across Australia in recent weeks.
British supermarket chain, Iceland, is also opening stores early for elderly and vulnerable shoppers.
In Scotland, one convenience store is giving away free “coronavirus kits” – including toilet paper and anti-inflammatories, among others – to seniors and those with mobility issues.
In the US, four national retail chains, including Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreens, are donating space in their car parks to be used as drive-through testing facilities.
Luxury Giants are Contributing to the Fight
Hand sanitizers are now in short supply just about everywhere. That’s why the luxury giant LVMH will start using its perfume production lines to make hand sanitizer to help address the nationwide shortage in France.
The company said it will provide the goods free to health authorities for as long as necessary.
Giorgio Armani will donate $2.3 million to hospitals and institutions working to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Italy.
Airlines and Tech Giants Hold the Line
Tech giant Facebook has committed to match up to US$20 million in donations made through its social media platforms. The company will donate US$10 million each to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
The fund was started by the United Nations Foundation and the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation in the US.
Meanwhile, Helloworld’s CEO Andrew Burnes will take a 30 per cent salary cut to help the travel agency reduce costs following the abrupt drop in flight bookings.
The company’s entire executive management team have agreed to a 25 percent cut for the same reason. Helloworld’s chairman and directors will take no fees for the rest of the financial year, as well.
Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian will forgo his salary for the next six months to help the US airline weather the storm. Robin Hayes, the CEO of JetBlue, will take a temporary 20 per cent pay cut.
A Gentler Revolution
As of March 17, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 182,400 people and killed over 7,100 worldwide.
Throughout the world, governments have advised people not to gather in groups. Millions are under lockdown as authorities curb travel, shutter schools and non-essential businesses.
In the grip of a killer pandemic, with everybody growing paranoid about touching one another, being selfless has become a truly daring step for any human being.
We have always admired generous souls. But to decide work for others now – as health professionals and a few companies and executives have – is well worth the higher notions of our ideals.
Hopefully, it is also a spark that starts something revolutionary.